A great deal of a-historical misinformation has been circulated about the mission period in the history of California with a special focus on St. Junípero Serra. The California legislature has even promulgated some of this misrepresentation of both the times and the saint. Unfortunately, St. Junípero has become a convenient scapegoat for both the imperial exploitation of the Spanish monarchy and the greed and genocidal policies of the first governors of California. The truth is that the mission system, though far from perfect, was an attempt at protecting both the rights of indigenous people and maintaining and developing the land we now call the Golden State. That is not saying that there were no mistakes made. But California in the mission era was centuries ahead of both the British colonies and subsequent American states in its relations with the people of the First Nations.
The Knights of Columbus produced an excellent video on the ministry and history of Padre Serra. We really need people to know the truth about this incredible saint. Share the following link on your teachers and catechists. I sent this out last year but it is worth seeing.
For those who want to learn more, Dr. Rubén Mendoza, an archeologist, and professor at California State University Monterey Bay gives an excellent lecture at the following link. Dr. Mendoza shares how his own research and archeological work at the missions changed his opinion from a Serra detractor to a Serra supporter. It is crucial that we understand our American history, even the ugly side, so that we can confront and change what we need to change. I highly recommend Dr. Mendoza’s lecture.